Learn more about our business retention and expansion program

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 12/20/2018

A Q&A with Ashton Allison, our director of business retention and expansion

Our region's businesses employ over 1.7 million residents, contribute the majority of job growth and investment, serve as ambassadors for businesses looking to relocate or expand in the area, and help tell our region’s story to the outside world.

As the newly-designated associate development organization (ADO) for King County, the Seattle Metro Chamber is proud to offer another tool to support our region’s businesses. 

Our Director of Business Retention and Expansion, Ashton Allison, works with King County and its 39 jurisdictions to assess opportunities for business growth, develop and implement initiatives for business retention, and connect existing businesses with the resources and assets they need to expand.

We sat down with Ashton to learn more about the program and how it can benefit King County businesses.

Ashton Allison

Q&A with Ashton: 

  • How do you and the business retention and expansion program help local businesses?

I offer one-on-one consultation with business owners, operators, and managers to assess their most urgent needs that will aid in success and growth. I also serve as an information center and resource navigator to answer questions about benefits, exemptions and programs offered in your business’s jurisdiction – and I can connect your business with other businesses in the area, small and large, to draw beneficial financial and resource-based partnership.

  • Do you have to be a Chamber member to benefit from the program?

The BRE program is a free, taxpayer-funded service, and you don’t have to be a Chamber member to qualify for the assistance. We're committed to providing these services based on an accurate understanding of the local business community, strong local partnerships, and open communication with stakeholders. 

  • What are you trying to accomplish with this work and what guides you?

My vision is a stronger, more inclusive, and highly interconnected regional economy fueled by the full development and advancement of an economic development ecosystem.

In my work, I seek to collaborate with and provide value to community, city, county, and state partners in identifying, engaging, and assisting King County companies that meet priority criteria. I understand the importance of and aim to tailor our outreach efforts to the needs of businesses in all sizes, phases, life-cycles, and backgrounds – especially those that provide living-wage opportunities to all King County citizens. I endeavor to lay a strong foundation for a long-term, sustainable BRE program that leaves a legacy of positive influence on King County companies and the regional economy.

  • What is an ADO?

ADOs serve as local economic development partners for the Washington State Department of Commerce and represent the collective economic development interests of communities within their counties. King County’s ADO was previously housed at the EDC of Seattle and King County, which has now merged into Greater Seattle Partners (GSP). GSP is the newly-launched regional trade and investment promotion organization for the Puget Sound region. GSP and the Chamber work closely to provide a full suite of business development services to King County businesses.

  • Do most businesses qualify?

Yes. I'm willing to work with all businesses located in King County, dependent on staff capacity. The newly-formed business retention and expansion (BRE) program provides resources to businesses at all phases and life cycles. Priority is given to businesses that meet the following criteria:

1. Maintain “primary employer” status (i.e., primarily export goods and/or services outside King County, thus importing new money into the county’s economy)
2. Provide living wage (or higher) opportunities for local residents
3. Contribute significant impact to the county’s economy and tax base
4. Classify in one of the county’s target industry or are a supply chain to a target industry cluster (i.e., aerospace & defense, maritime & logistics, clean technology, financial & business services, global trade & investment, information & communications technology, and outdoor recreation, fashion & apparel)
5. Fall into the category of a high-growth, emerging, or innovative industry
6. Do business as a minority and/or women-owned business
7. Are located in a distressed or low-income community in King County

To learn more, send Ashton an email about your specific needs.

Read more about the program here.